HENRI TAMBURIN'S: COMMON MISTAKES BY CASINO PLAYERS
HENRI TAMBURIN'S: COMMON MISTAKES BY CASINO PLAYERS

It's no secret that the casinos have a mathematical edge over players on all their games. This alone makes it tough for players to win. The higher the casino's edge, the lower the chances the player will end up a winner. But besides this edge that players must face every time they make a bet, they also manage to shoot themselves in the foot by making bonehead plays that increase the casino's edge even more. I see it all the time in casinos throughout the US. One mistake after another by low rollers and sometimes more so with high rollers. To give you an example of just some of these mistakes, here is what transpired when I took some friends and family on a recent trip to Las Vegas.

Mistake #1. Playing Blackjack with Poor Rules

We checked in to the Golden Nugget Hotel. As I walked through the casino, I found some two-deck and six-deck blackjack games. Most of the two-deck tables were crowded with players. There were not nearly as many players at the six-deck games. Generally, the odds are slightly better the lower number of decks used, but not so at the Golden Nugget. On the two-deck games, the dealer hits soft 17, a less favorable rule for players then if the dealer stands (which was the case at their six-deck games). Also, you could surrender and double down after pair splitting on the six-deck games, but not on the two-deck games. Bottom line was the tables that offered the six-deck shoe games were a better play than the tables offering the two-deck game for a typical basic strategy player. Don't make the mistake of playing blackjack on tables with worse rules and a higher casino edge than nearby tables with better rules and a lower casino edge.

Mistake #2. Not Taking Advantage of the Odds Bet

My older son wanted to play craps, so we walked across the street to Binion's Horseshoe casino. They are legendary for their crap games and they offered $2 minimum bet tables with up to 10-times odds.As I looked at the players making bets on the layout, it surprised me that very few were making an odds bet along with their pass line bet. Most of the players were betting $5 and $25 chips on the pass line. The cost for making a $25 bet on the pass line is 1.4% (casino's edge) times $25 or about 35 cents. My son had about the same amount riding on the shooter but at a cost of only 3 cents. How did he do that? By splitting up the $25 wager into a $2 pass line bet with $20 in odds. The odds bet costs nothing because the casino's edge is zero. Therefore his cost was only 1.41% times $2 or 3 cents. Don't make the mistake of making one large bet on the pass line without odds. Instead, bet as small as possible on the pass line and put the rest on the odds bet.

Mistake #3 Not Playing Video Poker on Full Pay Machines

My wife wanted to play video poker, so we wandered over to the Four Queens Casino. There she found a bunch of standard 25-cent jacks-or-better machines. The machines that were being played had a payoff of 8 coins for a full house and 6 coins for the flush (1 coin payout). It says this right on the face of the video poker machine for everyone to see. Yet hidden in this maze of video poker machines were some that paid 9 coins for a full house and 6 coins for the flush. Very few players were playing these machines - they were too busy losing their money on the lower payoff 8/6 video poker machines. Don't make the mistake of playing video poker machines that are not full pay machines. If you don't know what a full pay machine is, then learn about it before you play!

Mistake #4 Playing Roulette With Higher Odds

We were visiting the New York New York Casino when my daughter-in-law decided she wanted to play roulette. She was about ready to play, when I saw her and pulled her away from the table. "Let's go next door," I said. Next door is the Monte Carlo Casino that offers a single 0 roulette game as opposed to the double 0 game at New York New York. The elimination of one 0 on the wheel cuts the casino's edge in half. That's a big deal if you like to play roulette. Don't make the mistake of playing roulette unless you know for sure there is not a better game in the area.

Mistake #5 Playing Any Old Slot Machine

On this same trip, I caught friends of ours feeding dollar coins one at a time into a buy-a-pay slot machine. I explained to them that if they wanted to play only one coin in a dollar slot machine they shouldn't do it on this type of machine because not all the jackpot combinations were active. I showed them the type of machine they should be playing, namely a straight multiplier where they wouldn't be penalized for playing only one coin per spin.

Mistake #6 Taking Even Money

My younger son was playing blackjack and I noticed he took even money when he was dealt a blackjack and the dealer showed an ace. After he was done playing I asked him why he took even money. "Why not, Dad, I got paid $10 for my $10 bet, it was a sure win". I tried to explain to him that his "sure win" will cost him about 4% of his potential profits because more often than not the dealer will not have a ten or picture card for a blackjack. When that happens, his blackjack hand would be paid at 3 to 2 odds. Yes, sometimes the dealer will end up with a blackjack and if you don't take even money you will push with a blackjack. But the odds favor the dealer not having the blackjack and therefore the better play is to pass on the even money offer.

Mistake #7 Betting the Big 6

Our friends won a few bucks on the slots and decided to try their luck at craps. My older son spotted them at a crap table and decided to join them. He noticed they were making a $5 bet on the Big 6. He quietly pointed out to them that if they wanted to bet on the number 6, they would get better odds if they made a $6 place bet on the 6 (pays 7 to 6 rather than the 1 to 1 payoff on the Big 6). In fact, the casino's edge is about one-sixth less on the place bet compared to the Big 6 bet.
Overall we had an enjoyable stay in Las Vegas with my sons winning big on craps, my friends breaking even playing craps and slots, my daughter-in-law losing only a little at slots and roulette, and my wife and I winning on blackjack and video poker. The results of my friends and family wouldn't have been as favorable had they continued to make these common playing mistakes.

The moral to this story is it pays to learn about the casino games that you like to play. Winning and even breaking even is a whole lot more fun than consistently losing.

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